Saturday Odds & Sods: The Chain

At The First Clear Word by Max Ernst.

It still feels like summer in New Orleans. I’ve been so focused on the Kavanaugh mess that I’ve been a local news slacker with one exception: last Monday, our local utility company, Entergy, blamed a cat for a major power outage. Della Street and Paul Drake are in the clear: I’m their alibi. This is proof positive that my town is weirder than your town. Neener, neener, neener.

What is it with the news cycle in the Trump era? Every Friday it blows up after I tuck this post in bed and kiss it good night. I have a few quick thoughts on today’s two big stories. First, the Rod Rosenstein story is a set-up, the Failing New York Times got played by Trumpers. Second, Chuck Grassley’s ultimatum to Christine Blasey Ford is egregious extortionate excrement.

What do these fuckers have in store next? A 21st Century Reichstag fire? This is the face of American fascism.

It’s time to tune out the jackboots and return to our regularly scheduled programming.

This week’s theme song was written by  Stevie Nicks, Lindsey Buckingham, Christine McVie, Mick Fleetwood, and John McVie for an album that you may have heard of: Rumours. The Chain is the only tune on that record credited to all five members of Fleetwood Mac Mach 9. We have two versions for your listening pleasure: the original studio track and a recent live version featuring new members, Neil Finn and Mike Campbell.

I’m not sure if jumping to the break constitutes breaking the chain but we’re going to do it anyway. Now that I think of it, it’s closer to yanking your chain. What’s a little chain yanking among friends?

We begin our second act with a visit to Capitol Hill by way of the Palmetto State.

The Little Jerk was a nickname given to Senator Lindsey Graham by his late friend John McCain. I’ve never liked, trusted, or respected Graham. He’s always struck me as an oily unprincipled politician whose reputation as a moderate/reasonable Republican was undeserved.

Instead of a reasonable pol, Graham is a “people pleaser” as illustrated by his born again friendship with Donald Trump. Lisa Miller offers an interesting explanation for this in her profile of Little Lindsey for New York Magazine:

It is perhaps useful to know that Graham grew up in a bar. His parents owned the Sanitary Cafe, a watering hole and pool hall popular with local textile workers, in a town called Central, in a region known as the Upcountry in the northwest of the state, a budding Appalachia.


Graham, his parents, and his sister, Darline, 13 years younger, slept in one room behind the bar, and Graham worked at the bar after school. There he honed the skills that have defined him in politics: Always be charming, ready with a joke and a story; don’t make enemies; keep grudges private; defuse open conflict and resolve fights out back.

This explains Graham’s decision to lodge his head up the Trumpian rump in the hopes of “controlling” the president*. His role as a courtier to the Kaiser of Chaos seems to have had little effect.

I wonder if Graham calls Trump the Big Jerk? It would have the virtue of honesty in a dishonest world. I’m sure Little Lindsey sticks to flattering the Insult Comedian and pumping up his ego like a cornpone Hans and Franz:

I had so much fun reviewing Bob Woodward’s book Fear that I’m going to review a list that ranks all of his tomes.

Woodward Listomania: Chris Suellentrop spent his summer reading and/or re-reading all twenty of Woodward’s books. He published his book report in Politico Magazine.

I’ve read half of the books and it’s hard to argue with ranking All The President’s Men and The Final Days number one and two. Both books benefit from the superior prose style of Carl Bernstein. I do, however, prefer Robert Redford’s performance in the movie to Dustin Hoffman’s. Redford spares us Woodward’s tortured diction and weird accent. Thanks, Other Bob.

I disagree with Suellentrop’s ratings of The Brethren and Secret Man. The former is an insider account of SCOTUS when there were still giants on the court such as Brennan, Marshall, Black, Douglas, and Harlan. I’d put it much higher on a list of the Woodwardian oeuvre than #15. I object as does Christopher Plummer who played Harlan in the HBO movie Muhammad Ali’s Greatest Fight, which was really about the same Supreme Court Woodward and Scott Armstrong chronicled in The Brethren.

I recently re-read The Secret Man, which is Woodward’s account of his dealings with Mark Felt aka Deep Throat. It’s a helluva story that benefits from Woodward being his own source. It’s closer to the top than #8.

Cue mandatory Mark Felt posed action picture:

Let’s change the channel and talk teevee. Please do not listen to Larry Sanders:

If you’re like me, you miss The Americans. I never watch the Emmys but was pleased that Matthew Rhys won for best actor in a drama. Keri Russell was robbed but she’ll get to touch her husband’s, uh, trophy. In case you didn’t know, Rhys and Russell are married. That’s why she gets to touch his award. Hmm, Emmy sounds like a floozy from the wrong side of the Siberian tracks to me. This segment intro is wrong in so many ways.

 Philip Jennings Is Dead, Long Live Matthew Rhys: It was fun to learn more about the Welsh actor in Michael Sebastian’s Esquire piece. We learned that Rhys has a swell sense of humor:

It doesn’t come across in his depiction of Philip, but Matthew Rhys is a funny guy. He’s self-deprecating, easy to make laugh, and quick with an impersonation—including Buzz Lightyear when he’s stuck on Spanish mode and Billy Bob Thornton in an interview discussing the Emmys.

I wonder if Matthew line dances? Philip’s boot scooting was a highlight of the final season:

While we’re on the subject of teevee shows, it’s time to go Transatlantic on your asses.

Shetland: One flaw of police shows used to be that they were all set in big cities. For British shows, the city was London. Things started to change in the 1980’s when Inspector Morse brought his gloomy, beery, opera-y style to Oxford. Those days are long gone as show runners and writers seek out ever more exotic locations.

Shetland is set (where else?) in the Scottish Shetland Islands. The locals claim that one can see Norway on a sunny day. There’s one problem: it’s never sunny.

The series is based on the novels of Ann Cleeves and stars Douglas Henshall as Detective Inspector Jimmy Perez, a hard-boiled cop with an affinity for oddballs and underdogs.

The setting is spectacular and the stories are fascinating even if the Scots accents are occasionally impenetrable. One series is partially set in Glasgow, after all. I guess that means the show goes from Norwegians to Glaswegians.

Here’s the season one trailer:

Seasons 1 through 3 are streaming on Netflix, and season 4 is available online from Britbox via Amazon Prime. I give Shetland 3 1/2 stars and an Adrastos grade of B+.

We’ll remain across the pond to note the passing of a stellar musician.

Maartin Allcock, R.I.P.  was one of those people who could pick up almost any instrument and learn to play it well. This super talented multi-instrumentalist came on my musical radar screen in his years with Fairport Convention and Jethro Tull. Maart died earlier this week at the age of 61.

I had the pleasure of meeting Maart in 2007 when Dr. A and I took a tour that included insider access to Fairport’s Cropredy Convention. He was a gentle, soft-spoken man with whom I neglected to take a stalker/fan picture. Oh well, what the hell.

One of the tunes Maartin Allcock wrote for Fairport Convention was an instrumental, A Surfeit of Lampreys. He was fond of introducing it as “a song about a king wot died on the toilet.”

He explained it greater detail in the liner notes to Jewel in the Crown:

“Henry I, Beauclerk, was born in Selby in 1068, the 4th son of William the Conqueror. He became king in 1100, and by going to battle with his brother Robert, in 1106 won Normandy. He died from dysentery on December 1st 1135 after eating a surfit of lampreys; a jawless, spineless eel-like, bottom-feeding fish which was considered a delicacy until the middle ages.

Thanks to my Fairport fan friend Jesse for assisting my Surfeit of Lampreys quest. It was eely eely nice of him. At long last, here’s the song:

Thanks for all the great music, Maart,

If you thought the last segment was an epic digression, you ain’t seen nothing yet.

Last Saturday, I realized to my horror that I’d forgotten my weekly homage to Gore Vidal. Here’s my excuse: the Decades cable network listed a Dick Cavett re-run featuring the Master. I DVR’d the show, and learned to my horror that Ethel Merman was the featured guest instead of GV.

Merman was a huge Broadway musical star with the world’s loudest voice. I found her terrifying when I was a kid. I was so rattled by seeing her on my teevee in 2018 that I forgot the Weekly GV. Anyone buying this? Here’s an exhibit for the defense:

That’s even scarier than Jimmy Durante singing Inka-Dinka-Doo.

Wow, that was digressive even for me. Pass the digressive biscuits.

The Weekly GV: After that  bit of show biz silliness, I have two one-liners from the Master that fit our current absurd political situation quite well.

“Once a country is habituated to liars, it takes generations to get the truth back.”
― Gore Vidal

“For the average American freedom of speech is simply the freedom to repeat what everyone else is saying and no more.”
― Gore Vidal, Burr

Saturday GIF Horse: It’s no secret that I’m a big Rachel Maddow fan. She recently celebrated the 10th anniversary of her MSNBC show. Congrats, hon.

Here she is doing a happy dance on Late Night with Seth Meyers.

Who knew our girl Rachel could dance? The moves are geeky but impressive.

Weekly Benign Earworm: Every time I think Brett Kavanaugh’s goose is cooked, Slipping Away by Dave Edmunds gets stuck in my head. I’ve been loathe to jinx things by including it in my Kavanaugh mess posts but I need to expel it. And the only way to do that is to share:

The souped up sound is courtesy of producer Jeff Lynne of ELO fame who also wrote the song.

Let’s close things down with the stripped down sounds of the Texas blues.

Saturday Classic: Samuel James Hopkins was nicknamed Lightnin’ because of his guitar wizardry.  He was a pretty darn good songwriter as well. This 1960 album is a compilation of Hopkins’ singles from the Fifties.

That’s it for this week. The last word goes to Fleetwood Mac Mach 15:

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